28 September 2009

A New Week

Last week I ran more than I ever have in my life: 80 miles. Not a brag, but a surprise for me. My biggest week for training was to be 68 miles. I never had 80 in mind, but "it felt good so I kept going". And the stiffness is minimal, and only one painless blister-on-a-blister on my middle left toe. I think I'm losing the same toenail on that foot again, too. I hope it's gone by the time I get to Duluth or by the time the 50 miler at Murphy arrives.
This week, I will run to/from work again on Tuesday and Thursday. Saturday is the last official long run in my training cycle. 34 miles at Murphy if all goes well. I'll do 2 of the 25K loops and another 3 miles. I'll arrive at Wild Duluth on 10-17 having exceeded a 50K. But the elevation on the SHT will be the kicker for me as I've never quite ran the 5000 ft. of gain I will see up there. 2 weeks ago I ran a little over 3000 at Murphy, approximately. Hopefully that counts for something. It is what it is.

Oh...and I turn 41 on September 29th.

26 September 2009

A good day

I ignored all the gates at Murphy and set out to run one full 15.6 mile loop of the Surf the Murph race. I wanted to know what was in store and I also didn't want to get stuck on the smaller hilly loop closer to the race start. Not that 5 hours and 40 minutes on that section last week didn't help, but I wanted to recon the full course, to set my mind at ease. I looked like a jackass with my highlighted map(in a ziploc bag), holding it up to every posted park map to verify I was where I was supposed to be. I did get off track once and it cost me several minutes. I also took to the time to talk to a local walker for about 10-12 minutes. He didn't even know there were ever races held in that park.
So, between the time spent map leering, talking and getting lost I estimated about 30 minutes "lost" time on the course, not including 15 minutes spent eating/drinking plus changing my socks at my truck. Thank god I stuck to my plan of getting out to Murphy. Being on the course boosted my confidence and so did running nearly 50K. The one full 15.6 mile race loop and a smaller 12.4 mile loop and I got in 28 miles. The longest I've ever ran. I wish I'd had more time.

Had I known where I was going and stayed on task I'm certain I could have done a full 50K. I'm POSITIVE. I felt pretty damned good, and I was feeling very positive about my odds on Halloween. Next week, if time permits, I'm running the 50K plus the 3 mile section reserved for the 50 milers. If I do that I'll come back on Halloween with all the confidence I need on that 50 mile course, plus a 50K at Wild Duluth under my belt. I can do it and I'm actually starting to believe that now.

25 September 2009

Murphy, etc.

I'm getting up at dark-thirty to head to Murphy Saturday. There is a chance of rain until around 7 a.m., I want to be there by 5. My training schedule has me pegged for seven hours and I will do my best. I want to run one full Surf the Murph 15.6 mile race loop and then I'll spend the remainder of my time on the harder 3 mile hilly loop, closer to the starting line and my truck. I'm ignoring miles and the only time factor I care about is the 7 hours. I'm not running in my Vasque trail shoes as I suspect they are not protecting me from blisters very well. It's only a hypothesis. Instead I will bring 2 pairs of Pearl Izumis and extra pairs of socks and my Glide. Oh...and a blister kit. I'm amazed at how much gear and how many supplies are required to get me through a day on the trail.
Yesterdays run home from work was only 4 minutes slower than the morning's run in. My heart rate is considerably higher on the way home. I suppose its the heat mainly and the fact that I've already ran once and then spent a full day at work. I feel pretty good so I will try my new commute again next week.
I'm already thinking beyond my first races this October. I'll know so much more after Murphy and will be able to build a far more specific strategy for next years goals....

24 September 2009

Another Commute

Ran in to work again this a.m. Almost 20 minutes faster than Tuesday's run to work with the 14 pound daypack on. I saw an Owl, several deer, and a boatload of rabbits. Those things are quite abundant this year. No people. On the way home Tuesday I was moving faster than the cars on 169 at one point. I think I like my new commute.
I'll be going to Murphy for my long run this weekend. I'll bypass another gate to get to the flatter southern half. Spending all day on the hills is good practice but I really want to visualize the full course I'll run on Halloween. I wonder if I'll choose the 50 miler or opt for the 50K. Again, I'll decide after Wild Duluth and it will help seeing more of the Murphy course, too. Whatever my decision, I hope I don't regret it. What I mean is I might not get another chance at a 50 miler until spring 2010, and I don't want to be burdened with the thought of thinking I COULD have done it. I just "don't know what I don't know" is what it amounts to. Way more doubts than answers right now. However these races shake out, I'll have a ton more first-hand information to use for my next goals. I can apply what I learn for a smarter approach next time.
Recoverite, a fiber one bar, peanuts, a V8 and some granola for breakfast. For lunch two multi-grain flatbreads and a can of atlantic salmon.

23 September 2009

Semper Gumbi (Always Flexible)

Well I'm not much of a morning runner and tend to run at night more often than not. But this week I had to be flexible and take another approach to get my miles. With work so busy the best scenario I came up with was two-a-days. This week I also start facilitating a bible study every wednesday night for 8 weeks so that adds another element to balance.

I decided to run to and from work Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next few weeks before my first short course, Wild Duluth. I live less than two miles from the Coon Rapids Dam and work in Brooklyn Park on Brooklyn Blvd and 169. I assumed work was about 12-13 miles one way via Rush Creek Trail through the Dam. I packed my day pack on Monday night with work clothes, Recoverite, and some paperwork. I woke up at 4:30 and was off by a little after 5. A quick .8 miles to the trail head and I was running by headlamp, crossing the Dam and on the Rush Creek Trail in 2.5 miles on the Brookly Park side. The trail heads westward and I think it kisses Champlin briefly before turning south towards Osseo and Maple Grove, between 169 and Jefferson Highway. A couple nailbiter intersections to traverse and I'm at work...it ended up being 11.5 miles exactly to my building. The run home was about 8 minutes faster and a couple pounds heavier sice I was carrying the sweat-soaked clothes and a wet towel from my morning run. Not bad. I also kept the max HR averaged at 75%, so I was happy with that. I weighed the pack when I returned home:14 pounds, plus I was carrying 20 ounces in each hand. No wonder my everything is sore today, especially the quads. I woke up feeling like I had powerlifted. A pack for 23 miles was a little much. I 've never ran with a pack for that long, and I was in the military.

New plan: I brought Thursday's work clothes and return-trip workout clothes to work today. The only thing I'm carrying Thursday is my water bottles, headlamp ,iPod and ID's. I'm going to feel like Speed Racer!

I'm not 100% sure what the value is in two-a-days except that I get some miles. It's the best I can do. 46 miles beside a tempo run I've yet to do (Friday) and my long run on Saturday. I could do much worse and it should be the highest mileage I've ever seen for a week, for what it's worth. I'm hoping to get to Murphy saturday (preferred) or Sunday but I'm not sure I'll make it there or if I'll hit the flatter single track course by my house. That would make for a boring 7 hour workout with virtually no elevation, but "you can't be a picky beggar".

Peanuts and yogurt for breakfast and garden-fresh tomatoes and some egg whites for lunch. Yummy!! My bastard cubicle neighbor is scarfing Lee-Ann (Double) Chin right now. Instead of jumping over the wall I think I will hit the fitness center for weight training....

20 September 2009

Wanna Be

I wanna be training. I wanna be an Ultra runner.

Work dealt a considerable blow to training this week. Unplanned work tasks ("Fire-fighting") and long hours consumed about 60 hours this week, not counting this entire weekend I'm spending at work making up for the work I didn't get done! Everyone is getting a piece of me and I'm trying not to freak out about the loss of running time ( one 2-hour run at 80-95% max HR, including the warm up and cool down). Boo-hoo, Billy Boy.

It may be a blessing in disguise as my high hamstring has been considerably more sore since last weekend. I spent almost 6 hours at Murphy on September 12th on the hilliest section, according to the Martiskos(markers 1-11 on the park map). It honestly seemed like about 80:20 hills-to-flat ratio. I had planned on 6.5 hours but blisters on both feet cut me short at 5:40:00. I was so pissed off as I had the steam to go another loop. I'm sure the terrain is what aggravated my hamstring, but I think the silver lining was actually being on the worst part of the course I'll run on Halloween. The flats on the back portion of the loop will be heaven on race day although that part of the course is closed currently. I had to "navigate" (jump) two fences just to run the portion I was on. At least I know what to expect for hills. God willing, I still expect to run a 7 and 8 hour long run, preferably at Murphy, before I taper for my first Ultras. Life is so stressful right now and although I'm generally OK being a solitary person, always running and training alone has been difficult. The only contact I have with other runners is through MNDRS, when I ask others questions and they are generous enough to answer. I'm sure it's irritating for some of them dealing with the paranoid questions of someone they've never met. I never expected the solitude to be a problem and I look forward to actually meeting some of the people I have only "met" in hyperspace. It's frustrating not feeling plugged in or connected to anyone in the Ultra community when everyone else seems to know and run with each other. Maybe that will change as I actually start to show up at some of these things and put names to faces. Right now I'm only a third-party. An ambitious spectator.

13 September 2009

Efforts that inspire

Before I started writing about Saturday's long run I luckily payed enough attention to notice that a couple people were already blogging about their hard-fought battles up on the Superior Hiking Trail. One of the Ultra runner's I follow, Matt Patten, left a brief excerpt announcing he had DNF'd at mile 62. Matt doesn't know me but he was one of the first people to respond to my mundane emails and requests for Ultra info after joining MNDRS a couple years back and most recently as I near my first Ultra. So of course I was in his corner this weekend and sorry to hear he had DNF'd at mile 62. Thank God I read about his effort before I started whining about my own at Murphy. To me, for anyone to train for and attempt a race of that distance is nothing less than inspiring. Again I don't know Matt and he hasn't said a ton about the experience yet, but he seemed pretty level-headed about where he checked out on the Sawtooth course.

Certainly no one here knows ME, but if you did, you'd know how much I favor the "underdog" or any person or group attempting a task that most people think they are unlikely to acheive. I always favor the underdog in the Superbowl (I usually lose money too), I love reading about the battles that by all practical convention should have been lost and especially the battles that were lost but survived.

Obviously I'm not implying that Matt was not likely to succeed or that he was the underdog in the Sawtooth 2009 Saga. He was just as capable of succeeding as anyone that showed up. What I am attempting to point out is the moving spirit of the person brave enough to take the first step towards an effort the likes of Sawtooth. In other areas of my life I have learned this: As hard as we may be on ourselves about our own performance, traits or qualities there is ALWAYS someone- a child, friend, co-worker or a total stranger- that may be inspired by what we have done. Somebody believes that something each of us has done is bold, brave or inconceivable even when by our own measure we have come up short of our personal ideals or goals. I find that not only moving but also a good reason to be gracious and humble. Our efforts could make others think something is possible. Running 100 miles? Seeking religion? Attending college? Sobriety? Who the hell knows.

There are other Ultra battles that have moved me this year including SteveQ's stand at the Lean horse 100. And there HE was giving his best effort to other runners as a volunteer on the SHT this weekend. Amazing. Although it sounded as though Steve took Lean Horse pretty hard, Steve, Matt and all the other Ultra runners who have shown up this summer must know that their efforts inspire others to believe something inconceivable is possible.

So, I'll save the whining about my personal struggles this weekend for another post and dedicate this one soley to those who inspire. Thanks to everyone who ran and volunteered on the SHT this weekend. Great effort.

11 September 2009

my longest long run, other goals and hamstrings

Tomorrow I will run for 6.5 hours at Murphy Hanerahan park. Rain or shine. I actually enjoy the rain after the intial shock. Other than last week's 6 hour single-track long run I only put in a 14+ mile hilly run near my property adjacent to lake Shamineau and Crookneck lake in Scandia Valley (near Motley). During that last long run I was paying more attention to my music than the ground and kicked a root. HARD. This is the second time in 3 weeks I've accomplished this on the same trail. Each time it was full force during extension with my right foot and I aggravated my high hamstring condition that I've nursed for the last 6 months. Each time it was a full face plant into the trail, no time to roll. No rocks thank God.

Lessons: no more iPod on anything but road or treadmill, don't be complacent. And if I'm in a rooty/rocky section I'm now obliged to repeat my new cadence, "watch the ground, don't fall down. Watch the ground, don't fall down". That's honestly what I say over and over again. I cringe at the thought of injuring my hamstring or any body part to the point that I throw away the last 6 months of training. If you haven't had the high hamstring injury, bend over and have a friend boot you in the ass with a work boot as hard as possible over the lower glute on the bone.

So having recovered from a couple weeks of so-so mileage other than the long runs and a few middle distance runs, I'm back in it full swing. After Saturday I'll follow up on Sunday with a 2 hour run and take Monday off. Next week...60 miles total with a long run of 7 hours.
The only cross training I've done this week was doing bicep curls to fatigue last night while watching the last half of the Steelers Titan game I had DVR'd, and chest and tricep workouts during the week.

I've enjoyed each of my long runs more since eclipsing my longest exercise duration of about 4.5 hours about 4 weeks ago. Now each long run is a record for me and that feels good. Barring (re) injury I feel pretty good about Wild Duluth and then Murphy 2 weeks later. Some of my optimism is ignorance I'm sure. The plan (wisely advised) is to approach WD50K as a training run, take my time, get 31 miles under my feet. I'm registering for the 50 miler at Murph (my stretch goal) but after the WD50K "gut check" I'll step down to the 50K at Murph if I feel I can't do it safely. And if Cindy and Les allow changes to races prior to race day.

By October 3rd, I will have an 8 hour long run under my belt. That leaves 2 weeks to taper for the Wild, then run the Wild, and then 2 weeks of moderate-to-low mileage before Murphy. Probably more low than moderate to be honest.

Before Murphy I want to be 180 pounds or less. I'm about 190 right now. 175 would have me ecstatic. 180 is not overly ambitious -I don't think- and 175 isn't beyond the realm of possibility. My "ideal" weight and ultimate goal is to maintain at 165-170 pounds. I started at 227 pounds not being able to run a mile on a treadmill not long ago and I've lost damned near 40 pounds.
This is good.

09 September 2009

Hey...is that the new guy?

This is my first foray into blogging. Add blogging and blogger to the lists of things I swore I would never want to do or be. But here I am. Blogging. About being a runner. Runner is another descriptor on my lists.
No doubt I am blogging, I'm just not sure if what I am doing is running or if I fit the definition of a runner, whatever that is. I've run a road half-marathon, road marathon, several trail 25Ks and a little 7 mile trail race in Urbandale, Iowa. That's it. I know it's a shallow resume but I also know I like what I am doing, and everytime I do something (i.e. race), I want to do it more, I want to improve and I want to go farther. And I LOVE trails. I think those are at least a few of the minimum requirements to being an Ultra runner.
So, I'm training for my biggest goals to date. For 2009 : 1 to 2 short course trail Ultras and as a stretch goal, a 50 miler. I am not as witty or well written as most of the people I've been following through blogs. But I look forward to extending my Ultra network, getting to know as many of you as possible and learning a few things along the way. Right now I'm in the "the more I learn the less I know" stage. I can't seem to get enough information about this sport fast enough. At the same time I'm trying to avoid over-complicating something I care about. It's one thing to train hard but I think training in a smart, purposeful manner sets you aside.

So bear with me as I get started with Ultra running and blogging. I'm planning on getting better at both.